The Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless reports and stories on local issues. Here is the story of Harold Wiles' life.
MY father, Charles Cook Wiles, was aged 95 when he died in the Pambula Hospital. He was born in Yorkshire and was nicknamed Yorky.
He claimed he was a direct descendant of Captain Cook. His mother's name was Annie Cook. He served his early years in the British navy and was a soldier during the bombardment of Alexandra, and he often told us about the Arabs being shackled to the guns. I have checked up with relatives in Yorkshire relating to his story of being a descendant of Captain Cook, and they vouch for his submission as correct.
When he first came to Australia he worked at the GPO in Sydney, and later he landed on a small settlement at Beresford and selected 100 acres of land and built a house on it. He first took a load of wool from Ashton Station, Bombala, down the Big Jack Mountain to Eden by bullock team. All bullocks had to be shod, otherwise they got sore feet.
I was born in the year 1891 in a small settlement called Beresford on the top of Tantawanglo Mountain. There were about 17 families in that locality and an average of 30 pupils attended the public school.
There were six dairies in the area that supplied milk to the Cathcart factory, where it was separated and made into butter. Today there are only three families, and the public school vanished many years ago, and where it stood there are green saplings and trees 40 feet high.
On this part of the Monaro there were 11 months of winter and one month of cold weather. I have witnessed heavy falls of snow on Christmas Day. Through midwinter snow would cover house tops. It hung in ponderous masses from roof tops, broke limbs off trees, and it remained in the same position day after day. Unmelted snow clung on every drooping branch of the trees. Sharp biting frosts solidified, surrounded and pervaded everything that was exposed.
Dingoes howled with hunger at night within a few hundred yards of our home. Monkey bears moaned and shivered in tree tops through piercing snow and frost. Heavy mountain fogs would black out the moonlight. For our protection Mother would bolt all the doors before dark. In the morning I would have to get out the window and shovel snow away from the doors.